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Addiction. 2012 Oct;107(10):1817-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03910.x. Epub 2012 May 17.

Examination of mortality rates in a retrospective cohort of patients treated with oral or implant naltrexone for problematic opiate use.

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  • 1School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Western Australia.



To examine and compare mortality rates in patients treated with oral and implant naltrexone.


A retrospective cohort study.


A community not-for-profit drug treatment clinic.


Patients treated with oral naltrexone (n = 2155, 17 207 patient-years) and implant naltrexone (n = 2389, 11 678 patient-years) for problematic opiate use between August 1997 and December 2009.


Crude gender, age, treatment period and cause-specific mortality rates were calculated using data obtained from the National Death Index.


Crude mortality rates for patients treated with oral naltrexone [8.78 deaths per 1000 patient-years (ptpy), 95% confidence interval (CI): 7.38-10.17] were significantly different to those treated with implant naltrexone (6.59 ptpy, 95% CI: 5.13-8.06) (P = 0.0339). During the first 4 months following treatment, differences in the two groups were particularly apparent, with a mortality rate of 26.28 ptpy in patients treated with oral naltrexone compared to 7.34 ptpy in patients treated with implant naltrexone (P = 0.0003). Differences in initial mortality rates following treatment were associated predominantly with high rates of opiate overdoses in oral naltrexone patients during the first 4 months following treatment (17.22 ptpy compared with 0.67 ptpy in implant naltrexone patients) (P < 0.0001).


The use of implant naltrexone can reduce all-cause mortality and opiate overdose during the first 4 months following treatment compared with patients treated with oral naltrexone.

© 2012 The Authors. Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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